The Gypsum Files

Notes on the Rock Nobody Knows

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Gypsum memorabilia

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Jeremy White, fellow gypsum lover, recently wrote to tell me about his terrific collection of gypsum company memorabilia. He gave me permission to share some of his collection with my readers. I think you’ll agree these items are a fascinating look at the history of the gypsum industry.














Written by Elizabeth McCullough

September 24, 2015 at 11:29 am

Blackboard Chalk Isn’t Chalk

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Ubiquitous in many classrooms since the 19th century, chalk and chalkboards are familiar to most of us. White, powdery and prone to sticking to those surfaces where it is put and just as easy to wipe away, chalk and its accompanying board are excellent instructional aids. Notably, however, most chalk today isn’t technically chalk at all, but gypsum.

Read more at: Blackboard Chalk Isn’t Chalk.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

May 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm

The Cardiff Giant Fools the Nation, 145 Years Ago — History in the Headlines

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“What is it?” asked the ads for Barnum’s exhibition. “Is it a Statue? Is it a Petrification? Is it a Stupendous Fraud? Is it the Remains of a former Race?”

We’ve just passed the 145th anniversary of the “discovery” of the Cardiff Giant, which caused a stir throughout the United States. What’s the gypsum connection? You’ll find out in this brief and entertaining account of the madness at

via The Cardiff Giant Fools the Nation, 145 Years Ago — History in the Headlines.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

October 25, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The white lizards of White Sands, NM

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The little white whiptail lizard, the southern plateau lizard, and the bleached lesser earless lizard are the three species of white lizards found on the gypsum fields. According to Burkett, white lizards are most likely the same species as their colored counterparts, but have adapted to the color of the gypsum dunes to avoid predation.

via Scientists research impact of WSMR testing on rare species of white lizard – Las Cruces Sun-News.


Written by Elizabeth McCullough

August 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm

British Gypsum: The Beauty of a Gypsum Mine

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

August 15, 2014 at 10:30 am

Could Mars gypsum preserve microbes? | Red Planet Report

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The short answer: Yes!

“We suggest that gypsum on Mars would have entrapped, as solid inclusions and within fluid inclusions, any microorganisms and/or organic compounds that were present in its parent waters,” they note. “Therefore, fluid inclusions and solid inclusions hosted by salt minerals may be the best place to continue the search for life on Mars.”

via Could Mars gypsum preserve microbes? | Red Planet Report.


Written by Elizabeth McCullough

July 26, 2014 at 10:56 am

Revisiting Midland, CA

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Midland, CA has been mentioned on this blog before. Recently BLDGBLOG took another look at this gypsum ghost town and its surprising connection to Hollywood:

What’s so interesting about this place—aside from the exposed concrete foundation pads now reused as platforms for RVs, or the empty streets forming an altogether different kind of geoglyph, or even the obvious ease with which one can get there, simply following the aptly named Midland Road northeast from Blythe—is the fact that the town was built for workers at the gypsum mine, and that the gypsum extracted from the ground in Midland was then used as artificial snow in many Hollywood productions.

via BLDGBLOG: The Snow Mine.


Written by Elizabeth McCullough

July 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

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